Through the changes in works, means of transportation and distances to cover, the digitalisation of the economy and new consumption patterns, lifestyles have tremendously evolved. Increasing sedentary behaviours and inequal access to sport and physical activity at large have a huge impact on cities’ inhabitants’ health and – consequently – on health costs.
According to WHO, worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975. In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older, were overweight. Of these, over 650 million were obese. 39% of adults aged 18 years and over were overweight, and 13% were obese. Most of the world’s population live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight. 41 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese. Over 340 million children and adolescents aged 5-19 were overweight or obese in 2016. Related pathologies, including cardiovascular diseases, musculoskeletal disorders and some cancers, are constantly increasing.
What WHO also says is that obesity is preventable thanks to healthy diets and regular physical activity. The Strategy calls upon all stakeholders to take action at global, regional and local levels to improve diets and physical activity patterns at the population level.
Cities are accountable to their citizens to provide them with eased access to an active lifestyle and physical activity. There is no one-size-fits-all model, and cities have at their disposal many instruments to serve their own vision and strategy: massive and segmented data collection, labelling processes and public consultations. Whatever the approach, the common ground is a strong political commitment in addressing this major challenge.
Here is where City networks join the game. To increase the impact of such an engagement, what is needed is a set of common objectives and a shared referential that cities can use to give meaning and visibility to their actions and create fruitful emulation among themselves.
It is my privilege to offer a platform through our Smart Cities & Sport publications and events to raise awareness and mobilise forces to concretely tackle this challenge.
Mayor of the City of Lausanne
President of the World Union of Olympic Cities